Mickey's Gala Premier
A new Mickey Mouse cartoon will have its premiere in the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Several Hollywood celebrities all arrive in limousines to attend this special event. Outside The Keystone Cops (Ben Turpin, Ford Sterling, Mack Swain, Harry Langdon and Chester Conklin) are guarding the traffic.
Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Lionel Barrymore, John Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore step out of the first limousine (all costumed as in the film Rasputin and the Empress ). Then Laurel and Hardy leave the car and close the door behind them. Inside The Marx Brothers all stick their heads out of the car window.
In the next scene Maurice Chevalier, Eddie Cantor (costumed as in the film The Kid from Spain) and Jimmy Durante take turns singing in front of a microphone. They are followed by Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford (costumed as in the film Rain) and Constance Bennett all singing new lyrics to the chant. Finally Harold Lloyd, Clark Gable, Edward G. Robinson and Adolphe Menjou join in to conclude the song.
Sid Grauman is saluting all the guests. George Arliss and Joe E. Brown simply enter, but Charlie Chaplin sneaks inside. Then Buster Keaton enters the building, followed by The Marx Brothers all hidden under Groucho Marx' coat. Mae West enters (costumed as in the film She Done Him Wrong) and utters her famous line, "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?", which shocks and embarrasses Grauman.
Then Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow arrive in limousine and are cheered by the audience. Once inside the theatre Mickey’s new cartoon, “Gallopin' Romance”, premieres. The plot revolves around Mickey and Minnie playing music together, when suddenly Pegleg Pete kidnaps Minnie and drives off on a horse (which happens to be Horace Horsecollar). Mickey chases him and beats Pete in the end, bringing Minnie to safety.
All the guests in the theatre move rhythmically to the music. We can see Helen Hayes, William Powell, Chester Morris, Gloria Swanson and George Arliss in the audience. In the next close-up scenes the viewer can identify Jimmy Durante, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Rudy Vallee, Joan Crawford, Will H. Hays (dressed as a king in reference to his position as “Censorship Czar”) and Greta Garbo. Ed Wynn, Wheeler & Woolsey, Laurel & Hardy all laugh with the cartoon. Bela Lugosi (dressed as Count Dracula), Fredric March (dressed as Mr. Hyde) and Boris Karloff (dressed as the Frankenstein's monster) do the same, but with spooky evil laughter. Joe E. Brown laughs so loud that his enormous mouth opens wide, while Buster Keaton keeps his poker face. Jimmy Durante and Douglas Fairbanks laugh so loud that they literally "roll in the aisles". They are joined in by Groucho Marx, Joe E. Brown, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Oliver Hardy. As the cartoon ends the whole audience applauds and congratulates Mickey with his success. But Mickey is so shy that he has to be pulled on the stage by Will Rogers with a rope. All the Hollywood actors now shake Mickey’s hands (and feet!) to congratulate him with his success. Then Greta Garbo walks onto the stage and starts covering Mickey’s face with kisses. Mickey wakes up in his bed, while Pluto is licking his face. Mickey wonders if he was dreaming.
Other Hollywood celebrities that can be spotted in the crowd scenes: Constance Bennett, Warner Baxter and Walt Disney (as the fourth person on the right, in the scene where the other actors shy away because Garbo enters the stage).
Notes about the cartoon
- The cartoon “Gallopin’ Romance” was made exclusively for Mickey’s Gala Premiere. There is no separate Mickey Mouse cartoon with that title.
- Ed Wynn would later play The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Uncle Albert in the Disney film Mary Poppins (1964) and Maurice Chevalier would later sing the theme song of the Disney film The Aristocats (1970), both would go on to be named a Disney Legend, an award given to those who have made an outstanding contribution to The Walt Disney Company.
- This the first time Mickey interacts with humans.
- At this point in time, the Mickey shorts were released through United Artists, but the only currently existing prints of this short are reissue prints that omit any mention of UA. However, the "titles" for the short-within-a-short “Gallopin’ Romance” still exist in their original form with the UA credits. This gives today's viewer an idea on what an opening of a Mickey Mouse cartoon might have looked like in the UA era.
Temporary shutdown of BBC Television Service
On 1 September 1939 “Mickey’s Gala Premiere” was the final programme broadcast by the BBC Television Service (today's BBC One) before it ceased broadcasting during World War II. An urban legend about this final broadcast claims that due to the sudden outbreak of the war the BBC cut the cartoon short, and when BBC-TV resumed after the conflict, it was picked up at the very point it had been interrupted. (Some versions of the tale have the same presenter from 1939 say, "Now, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted...") Despite this widespread belief, the cartoon was shown in its entirety and then followed by an announcement of later scheduled programming (which was never shown) and tuning signals. On 7 June 1946, the day BBC television broadcasts resumed after the war, “Mickey’s Gala Premiere” was shown again.
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